Dick Williams and David Bell met with the media this morning. They revealed second baseman Scooter Gennett would be out for 8-12 weeks. An MRI revealed Gennett suffered a severe right groin strain. That time frame puts Gennett’s return in late May-mid June.
Gennett, who turns 29 in May, sustained the injury ranging to his left to block a ground ball in the outfield in the second inning of yesterday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Gennett showed obvious pain right away. Play was stopped, Reds trainers and Bell tended to Gennett on the field. After a brief discussion, Reds personnel helped Gennett walk off the field. Shortly after that, he took a golf cart from the dugout for the MRI.
Groin Injuries 101
Groin injuries are muscle strains. They concern the adductor muscles that run from the inner pelvis to the inner thigh bone. Strains are muscle tears. They range from less severe strains where a few fibers rip but the muscle remains intact to severe strains that involve complete tearing (“rupturing”) of the muscle.
A groin injury affects a player’s mobility as well as the ability to generate power in the lower body. It hinders the kinetic chain impacting the strength of throws and bat swings. Research shows hip and groin injuries account for 5% of player injuries. They occur most frequently with infielders who get hurt when they’re fielding. That’s what happened in this case.
As you would expect, recovery time depends on the severity of the injury. A minor groin injury might require three weeks of rest, while a more severe strain could require four to six weeks. Joe Panik, Giants 2B missed 3.5 weeks last year with a groin strain. The average length of time on the DL with a groin injury for a position player is about a month. A complete tear could require surgery, which comes with a recovery period of up to three months.
With the Reds announced 8-12 weeks on Gennett, you’d infer his injury was on the serious end of the spectrum.
Resting is critical to full recovery. Returning too quickly could worsen the injury and extend the recovery period. Last year, Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez was out for a month with a groin pull, returned for three games, and then was sidelined for five more weeks with a recurrence.
Dietrich and Iglesias
The question now for the Reds is how to fill Gennett’s role for 1/3 to 1/2 of the season. Veteran infielders Derek Dietrich and Jose Iglesias, who were going to make the team even before Gennett’s injury, are possible candidates.
Dietrich (29) has played 188 major league games at second and would seem to be an obvious first choice. His left-handed bat could replace Gennett’s pop. In the 75 games Dietrich played away from cavernous Marlins Park last year, he hit .290/.363/.496 in 278 plate appearances. That’s an isolated power (ISO) of .206 and wRC+ of 133.
In two years with the Reds, Gennett has hit .303/.359/.508; with .205 ISO and 124 wRC+.
A platoon with Iglesias (29) and Dietrich also makes sense. Dietrich has a 28-point L/R career split (wRC+) and Iglesias a 30-point split on the opposite side.
The other option is Nick Senzel. The Reds moved Senzel (23) to CF this spring to find him major league playing time. His natural positions are 3B and 2B, where he was blocked by Eugenio Suarez and Gennett. The Reds seemed to have cooled the past few months on the idea of offering Gennett an extension. A logical inference is that Senzel could take over as the Reds 2B in 2020.
The Reds had announced yesterday that Scott Schebler won the job as Reds CF, at least for now, and Nick Senzel was assigned to the minor league camp. The question arises, with Gennett injured, will the Reds switch course again? They could recall Senzel and move him to 2B, with a few spring games remaining for practice.
If Gennett’s injury had been minor, the obvious move would have been the Dietrich/Iglesias combo, and not disrupt the 2019 CF plans with Senzel.
With Gennett’s injury serious, the Reds could scrap the 2019 plan for Senzel and move him back to 2B. Even in that case, with Gennett’s eventual return in May or June, Senzel’s short-term future would be cloudy. Would he be able to re-enter the CF conversation with no additional practice there between now and then? Would the Reds just have him finish the season in the infield either at AAA or on the bench with the major league club?
The club may decide the best plan for Senzel is to keep him in CF for now and weather the two months-plus with the veteran infielders they signed this spring.
My unsolicited advice: Move Senzel back to 2B now. Call him up around April 15. Deal with what to do with him after Gennett returns later. At least with that plan he gets 2 months of major league time for sure, at the position he’ll play long-term.
Update: Peraza to 2B, Iglesias to SS
The Reds announced they will move Jose Peraza to 2B and install Jose Iglesias as their everyday SS. Nick Senzel will continue to play CF at AAA. That plan does strengthen them defensively up the middle. Iglesias is still world-class at short. Peraza would be better than Derek Dietrich at 2B defensively.
The drawbacks: It disrupt’s Peraza’s development at shortstop. It sacrifices Dietrich’s big bat against RHP. While Iglesias is slick in the field and holds his own against LHP, against RHP he’s pretty meh (78 wRC+). That’s why the Tigers cut him. It also has the opportunity cost of not giving Nick Senzel two months of major league playing time.
Photo Credit: Hayden Schiff. Licensing for the photo can be found here.